About Us

Mission Statement

The mission of Common Sense is to be the most accurate, most thorough and most interesting source of news, sports and entertainment for the Thomas S. Wootton High School community. The principles that staff members of Common Sense should operate on are:

  • To assertively seek content that has high interest, impacts the reader, provokes discussion and advances the reader’s knowledge
  • To react quickly to any newsworthy events, whether on campus, around Montgomery County or in another part of the world (if it impacts our readers).
  • To make the newspaper as relevant to readers as possible by knowing what has happened, what is happening and what will happen in the news
  • To create a newspaper that is a reflection of the diversity of the backgrounds, goals and interests of the readers.
  • To consistently adhere to the ethical guidelines of Common Sense and foster the most professional environment possible at all levels.
  • To develop and become technically, ethically and successful student journalists.

Diversity Statement

Common Sense recognizes that a commitment to diversity is crucial to fulfilling its mission to be the primary source of information for, by and about the Wootton High School community. Embracing the cultural traditions, beliefs and views of our subjects and audience strengthens this mission. In upholding our mission to provide full, fair news coverage, Common Sense will:

  • recognize that majority groups usually have little trouble sharing its views, but that underrepresented groups do not often share that position. Therefore, Common Sense must be committed to aggressively covering underrepresented groups to the best of its abilities. — This does not necessarily mean running more stories about “minority” issues and people. These stories are important, but underrepresented groups have a stake in “mainstream” stories too. Reporters should be conscious of sourcing: Avoid making someone the single spokesperson for an entire group or community. This usually originates from needing an authoritative source, like a club leader, to talk about an event. That person becomes the go-to source for stories about issues faced by a particular group, but reporters should be aggressive about collecting sources from a wide variety of people in the community.
  • avoid stereotyping and typecasting. Racism, sexism and any other reporting that demeans others will not be tolerated. Furthermore, no mention should be made of a person’s race, sex, religion, sexual orientation, age or other identities unless it is pertinent to a story.
  • create an open atmosphere within our own newsroom that welcomes a variety of views and encourages discussion.

Distribution Process: Passed out in classes during school day; mailed to subscribers and patrons; sent to every high school in MCPS as well as all Wootton HS feeder schools

Number of Copies Printed: 1700

Scholastic Press Affiliations: Columbia Scholastic Press Association, Maryland/DC Scholastic Press Association


Rachel Altman is an Editor-in-Chief of Common Sense. She joined Common Sense during her sophomore year at Wootton in 2015. After initially working as a staff writer, Rachel became a News Editor and is ecstatic to serve as an Editor-in-Chief this year.

Outside of Common Sense, Rachel prefers to keep herself busy. After a year on its founding board, she is now president of Project Mystique, a gender equality organization operating through the school. In line with this passion of hers, she writes a database on international gender dynamics. She is also heavily involved in Model United Nations, BBYO, the Humanities and Arts Signature Program, and volunteering with the Jewish Coalition Against Domestic Abuse.

Rachel’s journalistic work is supplemented by her time editing articles published in Inc. and Forbes by Grow My Revenue, a company dedicated to improving sales and business tactics.

Follow Rachel on Instagram and Twitter at @millionthrachel.

Sports Editors

Max Jordan is the sports managing editor for Common Sense. He joined the paper his freshman year, and is the only current junior on their third year. Jordan enjoys writing for features and op-ed the most, as it allows for the most creativity. Outside of school, he is a member of both the hockey and swim and dive team.

Max was born in the Virginia Hospital Center and was raised in Falls Church, Virginia. In late 2004, Max and his family moved to Potomac, Maryland, where he lives with his parents, Kevin and Lynn, and two brothers, Riley and Luke, who both attend Cabin John Middle School.

Max has always loved music. He plays guitar and bass, and plans to learn drums in the future. His favorite band is The Strokes.

Max attended Cold Spring Elementary School, where he was cast as the lead role of “Prince Charming” in the second grade production of Cinderella. He has broken his arm four times, both sides twice, torn both sides of his hip flexor on two different occasions, and sprained his ankle. He is no stranger to the emergency room.

Feel free to follow him on Twitter and Instagram @m4xjord4n.

Dean Joseph Spitz is one of the Sports editors to Wootton’s Common Sense, the newspaper that is run throughout the school and community. Dean has worked for the newspaper since the 2014 school year and began as a staff writer. Dean was a staff writer for the first two years of his career and wrote articles on varying subjects. Some notable articles Dean wrote have included pieces on the varsity boys lacrosse team, why cheating is so easy in high school and why the school store is closing.

Dean grew up in Gaithersburg Maryland and was raised by a school teacher and an independent business man. Dean plans to graduate from Wootton in 2017 and plans on attending a four year university to study business.

Dean has played football since freshman year, however, does not intend on playing in college. He made varsity his freshman year and has had a good high school career.

Follow him on twitter, @dean_spitz

Ryan Ullman is a sports editor for the Common Sense at Wootton High School. He joined as a staff writer as a sophomore for the 2015-2016 school year, before becoming one of the sports editors. He has written articles for the features, news, and sports sections as a staff writer.
Ryan Grew up in Chevy Chase and moved to the Potomac area when he was in kindergarten. He still currently lives in Potomac with his two parents, and brother and sister. His family has been heavily involved in sports throughout his life and his brother and sister also play soccer. He has played soccer for the boy’s junior varsity team in 2014-2015 and 2015-2016. This year he is playing for the varsity team.
He will be graduating Wootton High School in 2018 and hopes to continue his love for journalism throughout college.
Follow Ryan on instagram at ryan_ullman7 and follow him on facebook.

Giovanni Alexander Bellot, who openly goes by Alex,  is a sports editor for the well renowned paper, Common Sense.  He began as a staff writer at the start of last year, but as the year progressed he worked his way up to become an editor.

Alex was born and raised in Rockville, Maryland until around age 4 where he moved to Gaithersburg, Maryland where he was raised and has lived with his beloved family of four up until now.  His interest in newspaper sparked as he was just a young boy, when the weekly paper, The Washington Post, was still delivered by a boy on a bicycle.  From there he began to look through the pages, particularly the ones with pictures/cartoons, and never really read the actual article till he grew older.

Alex is also a big lover of sports.  He loves to play all sports, but the two he is interested in the most and watches on TV is football and soccer (real football).  His favorite football team is the New York Giants whom he has loved ever since he was little, and his favorite soccer team are the Spanish Giants, Real Madrid.  Both his fascination with sports and newspaper made it ideal to work in the newspaper business as a sports editor.

Alex loves what he does with Common Sense  and is happy to have made the decision to join journalism as a sophomore.  Now as a senior, Alex is looking to take his newspaper skills to the next level when he begins college.  He looks to major in a communications/ journalism at a school with a good program in such, which could possibly land him a job in the newspaper business after he graduates.  Alex’s dream job is to become a sports reporter/ writer for a big company where he can capture news around the world.  

Joe Pohoryles is a sports editor for the Common Sense newspaper. He joined Common Sense in 2015. For the first semester of the 2015-2016 school year, Joe took the Introduction to Journalism course, then subsequently joined Common Sense as a staff writer, writing articles in the Sports and Features section, most notably for the Coed Volleyball team.

Joe’s love for writing and sports started at a young age. His father, Steve, sparked his interest in sports, while his mother, Cindy, got him into writing.

Joe runs for the Cross Country and Outdoor Track & Field teams. He earned his first varsity letter for the Track team in the 1600m and 800m events as a freshman in the spring of 2016. Now a sophomore, Joe hopes to earn his first varsity letter in Cross Country and become a bigger contributor for the Track team.

In the future, Joe plans to graduate high school, and go on to major in either English or Journalism in college. From there, he would like to write for a major sports news outlet (Washington Post sports section, ESPN, Sports Illustrated, etc.) and maybe even become a sports television/radio personality.

Joe was born in Washington, DC and currently lives in Rockville with his parents and two sisters.

Features Editors

Rachel Wei, a junior, is one of the features editors of Common Sense. Rachel joined the Common Sense staff in her sophomore year and enjoys writing news articles about politics, local events and student events. Rachel’s favorite subjects are biology and anything to do with U.S. government and politics. She enjoys traveling to new places and hopes to study aboard in London.

Matthew J. Klein is a features editor for Common Sense. He began writing for the newspaper in early 2016. He enjoys covering political stories and writing satirical, often humorous articles, bringing attention to a variety of issues, most notably including fruits, math equations, and Supreme Court vacancies. He is currently beginning his third year at Thomas S. Wootton High School, and is set to work on the newspaper until 2018.

Klein was born and raised in Montgomery County, Maryland, where he is an avid member of the cross country team, which he first joined in 2014. He also ran indoor track during its 2015-16 season, and has run outdoor track for two seasons, in 2015 and 2016. He will remain on both teams for the entirety of his tenure at Wootton.

He volunteered on his first campaign in 2014, and attended the 2016 Democratic National Convention. He looks to study politics in college and fulfill his ultimate aspiration of becoming vice president of the United States.

Please do not follow him on Twitter @mjklein04 due to his deep hatred for it. You may friend him on Facebook if desired.

Katie Jayne Schreck is a junior features editor of Thomas S. Wootton High School’s Common Sense. Katie was born and raised in North Potomac, Maryland, where she currently lives with her parents, Lewis and Susan, and their dog Charlie. Katie has two siblings, Emily who graduated from University of Maryland last spring and is now attending graduate school at the University of Pennsylvania, and Jesse who is earning his undergraduate degree at Beacon College.

Along with being apart of the Common Sense, Katie is involved in other organizations at Wootton, including Patriot Ambassadors, Humanities and Arts Signature Program and the Social Studies Honors Society. Katie is also an active Washington Redskins Football and UMD Basketball fan.

After graduating from Wootton in 2018, Katie hopes to attend a four year university to study Journalism. After growing up with her father working for the Washington Redskins, Katie has developed an interest in becoming a sideline reporter for the NFL Network, where she can spend every football Sunday on the field.

Follow Katie on Instagram (@kjschreck) and Twitter (@katieschreck42) for a fun time.

Opinion Editors

Joshua Friedman is the Opinions Editor of the Wootton Common Sense. He joined the Common Sense in 2014. For his first two years, Friedman served as a staff-writer publishing articles for a variety of sections in the paper. Friedman was first introduced to the Common Sense when his older cousin Jason Krakower served as the Opinions Editor almost ten years ago. Friedman was first published during his time in the Introduction to Journalism class where he wrote a newsworthy sports piece about the Wootton JV Lacrosse teams service trip to Costa Rica. Though his favorite section to write for has always been Opinions, Friedman spent his first semester of his Junior year as the journalist for the Varsity Golf program.
Josh grew up in Rockville, Maryland where his parents promoted a strong foundation of business and literature. Friedman is currently working with a non profit organization called Nourish Now where he is developing and maintaining a blog website documenting their efforts. Josh is one of the captains for Mock Trial this year and will be writing for various sections of the Common Sense during the first semester. A senior at Wootton High School, Josh looks forward to concluding his final year with the paper as the Op-Ed Editor alongside Nic Band.

Nic Band is the Opinion editor for the Common Sense, which is run out of Wootton High School in Rockville, Maryland. He joined the staff in 2014, his sophomore year and has been on the staff since. Nic is actively involved in many different organizations in the school including Minority Scholars program, along with mentoring, Patriot Ambassadors. He also is a member of the Varsity Ice Hockey team and the Varsity Lacrosse team. Nic has been a member of both teams since his freshman year.

Nic grew up in Rockville, Maryland with his sister and 2 brothers, where his family was actively involved with sports, including hockey and lacrosse. Nic plans to graduate from Wootton High School in May of 2017, and continue his academics at the University of Florida.

Follow Nic on Twitter @nicband_23 and instagram @nic_band23

Commons Editors

Kelly Schuler is a senior commons editor on the Wootton Common Sense newspaper, along with Jill Geline and Jordyn Taylor who co-edit the centerfold. Last year, the 2015-2016 school year began her writing career on the paper starting as a staff writer.

Kelly grew up in Montgomery County, born in Rockville then later moving to North Potomac, Maryland. She hopes to stay in the DMV for college looking at UMD, Virginia Tech and University of Delaware as she is looking into studying investigative journalism or finance.

Kelly currently lives with her parents Jean and Kevin, as well as her younger sister Casey who also attends Wootton as a freshman this year. Her older brother, Ryan currently attends Virginia Tech as a junior.

Follow her on instagram @kelly_schuler2 and like her on facebook 🙂

Jill Geline, a junior, is a commons editor for the Common Sense newspaper. She joined Common Sense in 2015.
This is Jill’s 3rd year playing soccer for the girls varsity soccer team. She has been the starting goalie on the team since her freshman year. Jill also is a member of the girls basketball team. She also is a member of the National Honors Society.

Jordyn Taylor, junior, is a commons editor of the Wootton Common Sense newspaper. She joined Common Sense in 2015.
Jordyn was born living in Germantown Maryland and moved to the Wootton district in 2009. She attended three different elementary schools, and graduated from Robert Frost Middle School in 2014.
Jordyn played soccer throughout her childhood and switched sports to play field hockey in 2012, in which she has played ever since. She has been on the Wootton Field Hockey team for her freshman, sophomore, and junior year.
Currently, Jordyn lives with her two parents and younger brother Dylan who is in 7th grade at Robert Frost Middle School. On her free time, she enjoys hanging out with friends and watching The Office.
Follow her on instagram @jordyn_taylor23.

Arts Editor

Josh Messitte is the Arts Section Editor of the Wootton Common Sense Newspaper.  He joined Common sense as a staff writer in 2015 and became an editor in 2016.  Since becoming an editor, Josh has wrote arts articles and made the arts page of the newspaper. Josh was born in Chicago, Illinois and grew up in Potomac, Maryland.  He is currently a Junior at Wootton High School where he is a member of the soccer team and belongs the National, Social Studies, and Latin honors society.  Josh currently lives with his family in Potomac, Maryland. Follow him on twitter and Instagram @joshmessitte.

Online Editors

Julia Stern is the Social Media Director of Common Sense. She joined Common Sense her sophomore year at Wootton in 2015. She was a staff writer all year until she was named Social Media Director at the end of the year.

Julia grew up in Gaithersburg, where her dad worked as a lawyer and her mom worked as a psychologist. She went to Dufief Elementary School and graduated from Robert Frost Middle School in 2014. She played soccer and basketball at Frost, and was captain of both teams in 8th grade.

Julia continued to play sports at Wootton, as she played soccer, basketball and lacrosse freshman and sophomore year. This year, she will continue to play lacrosse and begin to play field hockey.

Follow her on twitter @julstern19 and instagram @jstern19

John Riker is the online editor of Wootton’s Common Sense newspaper. This is his second year on the paper and covers varsity and junior varsity sports in addition to maintaining the newspaper website. He is also the author and creator of johnriker.com and works for the NFLRush website as a Kid Reporter.

John was born and raised in the Montgomery County area and is the oldest of five. In his free time, he runs for the varsity cross country and track teams at Wootton and works on various projects, ranging from writing short stories to producing short films.

Subscribe to John’s blog at johnriker.com/site and follow him on twitter @johnriker10.

Staff Writers

Joey Voyta

Joey Voyta is a Staff Writer for the Common Sense.  He joined the Common Sense his sophomore year of High School in the 2014-2015 school year.  As a junior, he designed pages as a News Editor, but he preferred writing, and returned to his position as a Staff Writer for his senior year.

He has lived in Rockville, Maryland his entire life and has been very involved in sports since he was a kid.  He plays Varsity golf and basketball and he has a true passion for sports, which helped lead him into the newspaper, because he really enjoys writing about sports.  He has one brother named Jonnie and is the son of his parents, Renee and Steve,

Follow him on twitter @JVoyta and friend him on facebook.

Ava Castelli is a junior and staff writer of the Common Sense. She joined the staff in the fall of 2016. Ava grew up in Maryland with her four brothers and sister. She been playing lacrosse since the third grade. Growing up Ava has also played many other sports including soccer, basketball, swimming and track. Currently doing cross country at school, Ava also represents her school in indoor track and lacrosse.   

After high school Ava hopes to attend college and is hoping to apply to Maryland and other nearby schools. In her spare time, Ava likes to see her friends and hang out with family. 

Adam Friedman is a Staff Writer for the Common Sense. He joined the Common Sense staff in his sophomore year of the 2016-2017 school year. This is his first year on the paper.

Adam lives in Rockville, Maryland with his sister and brother as well as 4 stepsiblings, two at his mom’s house and two at his dad’s house. Adam enjoys playing sports. He boxes at Title Boxing and he hopes to start fighting soon.

Follow him on Twitter @adamlanef_1055

James Barberis is a staff writer on Common Sense. He joined Common Sense during 2016-17 school year. Ever since he was a toddler, James has always had a passion for writing and literature.

He has lived in Gaithersburg, MD his entire life and has two younger brothers. In his free time, James loves to listen to vinyl, attend movies in the theater, and play the guitar and ukulele.

James has played soccer since he was three yet writing has been his main goal in life. This profound love for writing has lead him to Common Sense where he plans on being an integral part of the newspaper’s publication. He hopes that his time on the newspaper will be memorable and a stepping stone for the rest of his life.

Follow him on Twitter @jamessbarb and on Instagram @jamessbarb

Daria Kerschenbaum is a staff writer for Common Sense. For the past two years, Daria has been freelancing for the newspaper and now is permanent fixture of the staff.  Beyond journalism, she has won awards for her playwriting (The Center Stage Young Playwrights Festival, The Montgomery County One-Act Festival) and poetry (The Folger Center’s Shakespeare’s Sisters). Daria is the president of Wootton’s feminist club, Project Mystique, as well as the Drama Club. Her current TV show obsession is Westworld, though Game of Thrones and Stranger Things hold a special place in her heart.

Haley Zmuda is a senior at Wootton High school who joined the Common Sense newspaper this year. She is a staff writer whose interest in reporting stemmed from her doing the morning announcements in 5th grade. Haley is currently working at an internship with a non profit organization where she runs the social media page for them. She writes blogs and overviews of pop culture.

She is going to be attending Michigan State University in the fall and will strive to major in Journalism with a minor in Business. She’s looking to begin a career in being a reporter on major news issues in the US.

You can follow her on instagram at @hjzmuda and twitter @haleyzmuda

Jonnie Voyta is a staff writer for the Wootton Common Sense newspaper as a sophomore. Jonnie was born and still currently lives in Rockville, Maryland, where he went to Robert frost middle school. Jonnie has a brother who is currently a senior at Wootton and currently among the newspaper staff. Outside of school Jonnie likes to play lacrosse and other sports with his friends. Jonnie hopes writing for Common Sense will be a great experience where he can learn more about being a journalist.

Justin Fishman is a sophomore at Wootton high school who joined the Common Sense Newspaper this year. Justin has loved writing ever since a young age although he originally did not know how to spell his name. Justin has an older brother who is a senior at Wootton high school. Justin loves to play and watch sports and sometimes even bet on the games. Justin hopes writing for the newspaper will be a memory that he will never forget.

You can find him on twitter @jfish324

Danny Rothenberg is a sophomore at Wootton high school who is in his first year of writing for the Common Sense Newspaper. Danny is a sports enthusiast and player who found his love for writing through sports at a young age as he was and still is watching sports all the time. Danny hopes to make an impact in the newspaper throughout his time as a staff writer.

Aaron Strauss is a sophomore staff writer for Wootton high schools Common Sense newspaper. He joined Common Sense this year. For half of the school year Aaron has been learnin how to become a staff writer. Aaron has loved writing all his life and is very excited to write for Wottons newspaper. Aaron has an older sister named Emma who graduated from Wootton in 2016, who now attends the University of Georgia, and a younger brother named Brett who will attend Wootton next year, as a freshman.

Aaron loves to play sports, watch sports games on tv, attend sports games, and take part in friendly challenges.

You can find him on instagram @ajaystrauss and add him as a friend on facebook

Matt Kelly is a sophomore staff writer for Wotton Common Sense newspaper. He joined Common Sense in the fall of 2016, Matt has enjoyed writing for other people his whole life. Matt is also excited for the opportunity to write for the school. He had an older brother Alex, who inspired him to request for the writing job. Matt enjoys playing sports, being with friends, and relaxing with family.

Victor de Avila– My name is Victor de Avila and I have just finished Journalism and am excited to begin Newspaper. I grew up in Southern California and moved here during the summer of 2012. Since then, I have become very familiar with the area and have met great friends I enjoy to be around. I am very into sports, playing soccer, basketball, and volleyball. I will be playing D3 volleyball at Alvernia University in the fall.

Hannah Ho is a Staff Writer on Wootton’s Common Sense newspaper. She joined Common Sense during her sophomore year at Wootton in 2016.

Born and raised in Gaithersburg, Maryland, she moved to the Wootton district with her younger brother and parents freshman year.

Hannah’s love for writing sparked when she was introduced to newspaper club at Lakelands Park Middle School in 6th grade where she continued it all three years. She has won awards such as The Montgomery County Mosaic Writing Contest for her short story in 2015.

Beyond writing, she is passionate about art and playing volleyball. She has played on the girls volleyball team for two years at Wootton and is the president of Wootton’s Art With A Heart Club.

Follow her on Instagram (@hannahh.ho) and friend her on Facebook

Joyce Yang is a sophomore staff writer for Wootton High School’s Common Sense. She was raised by her grandparents in China for 2 years after she was born in Maryland. Joyce currently lives in Maryland with her parents, older brother, aunt, uncle, and 3 cousins. Growing up she learned how to ice-skate, draw, and played the violin, but ended up quitting after a few years. Joyce continues to play the piano, guzheng, and dance.

Follow her on Twitter @psh_joyce3 and Instagram @psh_joyce

Jake Klugerman is a sophomore at Wootton high school and is joining the newspaper as a staff writer.  Jake enjoyed learning about journalism and is excited to have his work in the newspaper.  He has two siblings including one who previously wrote for the Common Sense.

Sophia Koval is a staff writer for Common Sense Newspaper. She is a senior, and is excited to be taking her first semester of newspaper during her last semester of high school. Her recent interest in journalism stemmed from her existing interests in biology and science writing. She is specifically interested in communicating science to a non-scientist audience.

Sophia has lived in Rockville, MD, her whole life, and does not yet know her plans for college. She looks to major in biology, and either double major or minor in English or Global Health. She has participated in Wootton theatre since her freshman year, and will be playing Marie, the fairy godmother, in the school’s spring production of Cinderella. She is on the executive board for Patriot Ambassadors, is a co-president of the English Honors Society, and is a co-founder of Project Mystique.
Follow Sophia on twitter @Sophia_Koval and instagram at sophiko22.